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Author:Dr. Wes Bredenhof
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Congregation:Free Reformed Church of Launceston, Tasmania
 Tasmania, Australia
 
Preached At:Providence Canadian Reformed Church
 Hamilton, Ontario
 
Title:What the gospel promises us in the title Christ
Text:LD 12 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:Our Salvation
 
Preached:2014
Added:2015-12-03
Updated:2015-12-03
 

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

Note:  all songs from the 2014 Book of Praise

Psalm 68:1,2

Psalm 110

Hymn 41

Hymn 2

Hymn 83

Bible readings:  Mark 6:1-6, Hebrews 1

Catechism lesson:  Lord's Day 12

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Dr. Wes Bredenhof, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.


Beloved brothers and sisters,

Our world is becoming increasingly informal.  As a result, titles seem to be less and less important.  People want to do away with titles because they’re perceived as being pretentious and uppity.  The preference for many today is a first-name basis.  However, there are a few areas where the use of titles persists.  One important area has to do with royalty.  No regular person would address our queen by her first name.  She has titles and the expectation is that people use her titles and the proper way of addressing her.  She’s not “Elizabeth” to you, but “Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God of the United Kingdom, Canada, and Her other Realms and Territories Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith.”  That’s her full official Canadian title, it’s rather long, but you can just call her “Your Majesty.”  When it comes to royalty, titles still matter. 

If that’s true of earthly royalty, it’s truer yet for heavenly royalty.  When it comes to our Saviour, his titles still matter.  As we saw last week, our Saviour has a personal name, Jesus.  When he came into this world, God had that name appointed for him.  Usually that personal name is combined with the title “Christ.”  We often see him referred to as “Jesus Christ.”  Perhaps the boys and girls hear that and think that “Christ” is his last name.  After all, that’s the way we write our names, first name and then last name.  First name “Jesus,” last name “Christ.”  But that would be wrong.  “Christ” is not his last name, but a title, something like “King.”  The title speaks of who he is and what he came to do.

As our Catechism says, the title “Christ” means “anointed.”  The English word “Christ” comes from the Greek “Christos.”  That Greek word in the New Testament translates a familiar word from the Old Testament, “Messiah.”  “Messiah” means something like “Anointed by Yahweh.”  So when you see or hear the words “Jesus Christ,” you could substitute “Jesus Messiah.”  And you have to clearly understand that it means that this person Jesus was anointed by the LORD God.  At his baptism, he was anointed with the Holy Spirit to a three-fold role of prophet, priest, and king. 

This afternoon we want to focus on that three-fold role or office.  We’ll consider it from the perspective of QA 22.  All that a Christian must believe is included in the Apostles’ Creed.  The Apostles’ Creed is a summary of “all that is promised us in the gospel.”  So that’s our angle for this afternoon’s sermon.  We’ll learn about what the gospel promises us in the title “Christ.”   

We’ll look at the three-fold office of Jesus in his:

  1. Humiliation
  2. Exaltation

We confess that Jesus was anointed to be “our chief prophet and teacher.”  As such, he was entrusted with the responsibility of fully revealing to us “the secret counsel and will of God concerning our redemption.”  We see him carrying out that aspect of the three-fold office in what we read from Mark 6.

Jesus went to Nazareth, to his hometown.  It was the Sabbath and so he went to the synagogue there, which was their equivalent of going to church.   While at the synagogue, he taught from the Old Testament.  What do you think he was teaching?  If we go by what we read of him doing in synagogues elsewhere in the New Testament, we can be quite sure that he was teaching about the redemption of sinners.  He was explaining how he had come to fulfill all of God’s promises for salvation.  He was preaching the good news.  He was doing the work of a prophet. 

But what I want you to see is that, at that particular moment, that was part of his humiliation.  His preaching was not well-received.  People remembered that he was the carpenter’s son and they despised him for it.  Guys who work with their hands can’t be taken seriously when they get behind the synagogue pulpit.  That was their way of thinking.  Not only did they prejudge him based on his occupation, they also remembered that he was “the son of Mary,” born under suspicious circumstances.  He was not “the son of Joseph,” only of Mary.  There’s a hint of an allegation of an illegitimate conception there.  Because of these things, though he was the Son of God come in the flesh, they refused to listen to our chief Prophet and Teacher.  Instead, they took offense at him and refused to believe him.  That was humiliation for our Saviour. 

But that humiliation was only a foretaste of what was to come.  Every time Christ preached in a synagogue, he was reminded of his coming date with death.  You see, every synagogue pulpit faced towards Jerusalem, the place where he would endure his trial, his final sufferings, and death.  Moreover, the exit of every synagogue was directed towards Jerusalem.  As he walked out of the synagogue in Nazareth that day, he was pointed to Jerusalem and his ultimate humiliation for us.    

So, in his earthly ministry, he suffered humiliation as a prophet.  Of course, there’s more.  When we think about his sufferings and humiliation, his high priestly work is often what first comes to mind.  Our Catechism mentions the fact that we are redeemed “by the one sacrifice of his body.”

It’s a given that priests are people who make sacrifices.  In the Old Testament, there were priests and their job was to process and offer up the sacrifices of the people every day.  Animals and grain offerings were brought to them and they put them on the altar.  These sacrifices and the whole system around them pointed ahead to Christ and what he would do. 

What Christ did was something that no other priest ever did and would ever do.  He was a totally unique High Priest, so unique that he is described as being in the order of Melchizedek.  In Psalm 110, we sang that the Messiah, the Christ would be a priest in that very special order of Melchizedek.  Melchizedek was a unique high priest.  We read about him in Genesis 14.  He appears out of nowhere and then disappears.  Moreover, he was not only a priest, but also a king.  Jesus is said to be a high priest in that order, the order of Melchizedek.  That means that, like Melchizedek, he’s unique in his background, but also unique in his task.  All the other priests and high priests before him offered up sacrifices, but only the Christ offered up himself as the sacrifice for sin.  Jesus Christ made the sacrifice that we could not make for ourselves so that we would be reconciled to God.  Through the blood of the cross offered by this High Priest, we have peace with God.  The gospel promises us that in his humiliation as our priest. 

So, he suffered humiliation as our chief prophet, he suffered humiliation as our High Priest, and he also suffered humiliation as our King.  When you see Queen Elizabeth, you see a dignified and regal lady.  And that’s just on a regular day for Her Majesty.  But if she’s dressed in all her royal robes and has her crown on, she really makes an impression.  But what happened when King Jesus walked this earth?  Isaiah 53:2-3 sums it up, “…he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him.  He was despised and rejected by men…”  There was nothing about his appearance that said he was a king.  There were glimpses and hints of his royal majesty, but very few people treated him like the king that he was and is.  This is remarkable.  We’re speaking about the Son of God, King of kings, King of the universe.  He’s the one through whom all things were made.  Yet, from the beginning of his life on earth he was hated, persecuted, and disrespected. 

It all culminated in what was meant to be the last insult of his life on earth.  There he was hanging from the cross.  On Roman crosses there was often a little piece of wood where the crucified person could prop himself up.  This small wooden peg was called a sediculum, literally a little seat.  The idea of this sediculum was to extend the suffering of the crucified.  The Romans meant crucifixion to be a long and cruel death – that sent a message to the masses:  don’t mess with Rome.  The sediculum of the cross was the only throne that King Jesus would have on this earth.  To humiliate our King further, they added a placard that said in three languages, “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.”  They thought it was quite funny.  Here’s the king, sitting on his throne.  That was part of his suffering for us. 

You see, he endured humiliation in his three-fold office of prophet, priest, and king.  We need to remember why.  It’s because human beings like you and me have failed to carry out that three-fold office.  Being human, being in the image of God, that places upon us the calling to be prophet, priest, and king.  That’s what Adam was called to be in the Garden, that’s what all of us are called to be too.  Adam was called to live as a prophet, confessing God’s Name – so are we.  Adam was called to live as a priest, offering his life as a sacrifice to God – so are we.  Adam was called to fight against sin and wickedness – so are we.  How often we’ve failed to carry out this three-fold office!  In his humiliation on earth, Jesus perfectly executed the three-fold office in our place.  The Second Adam was obedient where the first Adam had failed and this is good news because his obedience belongs to us who believe.  Moreover, his suffering, especially on the cross, covers all our failures in the sight of God.   There is forgiveness and healing through the humiliation of the Christ.  The gospel promises that Jesus did all of this for everyone who repents of their sin and turns to him in true faith.  So, loved ones, this afternoon we’re called to do exactly that.  Believe what the gospel promises you in the humiliation of your Prophet, Priest, and King.

We’re also called to believe what the gospel promises in the exaltation of our Prophet, Priest, and King.  We often divide up the work of Christ into these two aspects.  His humiliation extends from his conception and birth to the grave.  Then after the grave, we have his resurrection and that’s where his exaltation begins.  Let’s look at his three-fold office in his exaltation and how that proclaims gospel promises to us. 

The Son of God is now an exalted prophet.  After he ascended into heaven, he continued his work here on earth through his Holy Spirit.  The book of Acts is sometimes called “the Acts of the Apostles.”  But that’s not really an accurate title.  Luke didn’t give it that title.  He didn’t give it any title, but he certainly hints at what the title should be.  He says in Acts 1:1 that his first book (his gospel) was about what Jesus began to do and teach.  He implies that Acts is about what Christ continued to do and teach.  Acts tells the story of how Christ gathered, defended and preserved his church through his apostles and their preaching ministry.  In other words, how the exalted Christ continued his prophetic work.  To Jews and Gentiles, he has long been revealing “the secret counsel and will of God concerning our redemption.”  To this day, our Saviour continues to do that through his servants.  Our exalted Chief Prophet still speaks in his Word and through the ministers of his Word. 

Moreover, a time is coming when all the kings of the earth will bow before the word of our Chief Prophet.  Isaiah 52:15 says that “kings shall shut their mouths because of him.”  During his earthly ministry, kings opposed him.  When he walked on this earth, rulers like Herod didn’t honour him the way they should have.  Even now as he sits exalted in heaven, so many earthly rulers don’t respect his Word.  If you write to the Prime Minister and tell him what the Chief Prophet says in Scripture about some issue, the Prime Minister will likely slough it off and ignore it.  That’s sad, but it’s certainly what he’s done in the past.  But according to Scripture, the day will come when all the rulers of this earth will be silent and humbled before the exalted Chief Prophet.  His Word will be gloriously vindicated.                           

So, the Son of God is an exalted prophet.  He is also an exalted High Priest.  Our Catechism mentions the fact that he “continually intercedes for us before the Father.”  Our High Priest sits exalted in heaven, he’s sitting, but he’s not inactive.  No, he’s busy on our behalf.  He constantly speaks up for us before the Father.  The gospel promises that we have an advocate in heaven who loves us.  He looks out for our best interests.  He had us on his heart when he offered his body for our sins, and he still has us on his heart as he pleads our cause in heaven.  Hebrews 9:24 reminds us that the exalted Christ has gone to heaven in order “to appear in the presence of God on our behalf.”  We can be confident that this priestly ministry is effective, because the One who carries it out is well-qualified and the One who hears the intercessions has promised to give heed to his Son.  What a comfort it is to know that we have a voice before the throne of God and that voice belongs to someone who loves us deeply!

Finally, the Son of God is an exalted King.  Hebrews 1 powerfully speaks of this.  We’re taught there that Jesus is superior to all the angels.  In fact, he is the Creator of those angels and everything else.  He is a mighty king, exalted over everyone and everything.  Absolutely no one compares to King Jesus.  He presently sits enthroned in heaven in glory and majesty.  The Catechism goes further and reminds us that, as our eternal King, Christ rules over us by his good Word and powerful Spirit.  He is busy ensuring that we are defended and preserved in the redemption he won for us.  Our exalted King loves us and will not let go of us.  Those who look to him in faith can trust that he will always be present with them to guard and keep them. 

This exalted King still has remaining work to do.  Not only will he continue to keep his people, but he will also come to collect them.  He will return to judge the living and the dead.  This is a gospel promise for those who believe.  For those who believe, the return of King Jesus to this earth is not something to fear, but something to eagerly anticipate.  We look forward to his return, because it will signal the end of the old order of things.  It will be the end of sin and death.  It will be the end of all our struggles with sin.  It will be the end of disease.  His return will signal the end of grief and sorrow.  Think about this too:  in this world, we see so much injustice.  People get away with all kinds of terrible things.  They should go to jail or worse, but nothing happens.  But the gospel promises justice at the coming of our exalted King Jesus.  Everything that has been wrong in this messed-up world is going to be made right.  I very much look forward to that and I’m sure you do too.

Brothers and sisters, the gospel truly promises us wonderful things in the exaltation of Christ.  As exalted Prophet, Priest, and King, the Son of God holds out good news to each of us.  But how do we receive what is promised?  For instance, how can we be sure that we have a voice in heaven speaking on our behalf?  Loved ones, we only receive what is promised through faith.  It’s by accepting what God says as true, and then not only as true for others, but also as true for you personally.  It’s by trusting that this Christ, this Messiah, this anointed of Yahweh, is your Saviour.  It’s by resting only in what he has done for you.  The gospel proclaims good news to us, but it calls for a response of faith to that good news.  So I urge you again to respond in the proper way and believe that this Christ is yours.  Believe that he speaks to you the secret counsel and will of God concerning your redemption.  Believe that he intercedes for you before the Father.  Believe that he governs you by his Word and Spirit and defends and preserves you in the redemption he obtained for you.  Believe that he is coming to judge the living and the dead as your King who loves you.

While they may not be so important in the world anymore, when it comes to our Saviour titles still matter a lot.  Titles like “Christ” matter because they tell us so much about him.  “Christ” tells us about who he is as prophet, priest, and king and what he has done in this three-fold office.  Not only what he has done in the past in his humiliation, but also what he’s doing and will do in his exaltation.  If Jesus Christ is at the center of our Christian faith (and he is), then it’s really important for us to know and believe everything the Bible tells us about him.  When he was on this earth, there was sometimes confusion about his identity and mission.  At a certain point, he asked his disciples, “But who do you say that I am?”  Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”  That was the correct answer, an answer full of significance, full of God’s promises.  Jesus is the Christ.  Believe it and it’s good news, not only for others, but also for you.  AMEN.

Prayer:

O God in heaven, our Father,

Thank you for what your Word teaches us about Christ, our prophet, priest, and king.  We praise you for the gospel promises in his three-fold office, both in his humiliation and exaltation.  We not only praise you for these things, we believe you.  We trust what your Word says to us, acknowledging it as true and certain for each of us individually.  Lord, we believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God.  We believe that he is our chief prophet, who has taught us and still does.  We believe that he is our priest, who was humiliated and suffered to pay for our sins.  We believe that right now he is interceding for us and he will continue to do so.  We believe that he is our king, ruling over us with his Word and Spirit, protecting us in our salvation.  We believe he will return to judge the living and the dead and we get comfort from that.  Thank you, O God for these gospel truths.  Thank you Lord Jesus Christ for being all of this and more to us, to us poor sinners who desperately need your ministry for us.  Merciful God, help us to continue growing in our faith not only today, and not only in the coming week, but for the rest of our lives. 

                                  

      




* As a matter of courtesy please advise Dr. Wes Bredenhof, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.

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